Local News

Easley, State Legislature Being Sued Over Highway Trust Fund

Posted November 15, 2002

— Governor Mike Easley and state lawmakers are being sued by two former state officials for using money from the state's Highway Trust Fund to balance the state budget.

The state's Highway Trust Fund was established in 1989 to improve 1,800 miles of roads and build 200 miles of urban loops. The money is supposed to be off-limits to the Legislature, but lawmakers and the governor took $80 million from the highway fund to help balance the budget.

Republican Jim Harrington, a former secretary of transportation, and Democrat Bill Goldston, a retired state senator who helped create the trust fund, are taking the state to court. In a lawsuit filed Thursday, they claim the governor and the Legislature violated the state Constitution when they raided the fund.

"Are we going to let the governor do what he wants to do or is he going to abide by the Constitution?" Goldston said. "Even football players play by rules. The Legislature is supposed to play by rules."

Lawmakers say they borrowed the money from the trust fund and intend to pay it back, but Goldston and Harrington said they do not think that is likely to happen.

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